An Unlikely Location
Why would a sign at the limits of a sleepy upstate New York hamlet on the eastern edge of the Adirondack Mountains claim the village as the "Birthplace of the U.S. Navy"? This must be a familiar thought for tourists driving along U.S. Route 4 through Whitehall—some 200 miles north of New York City and 150 miles overland from the nearest approach of the Atlantic Ocean, off Maine.
The answers can be found in the Skenesborough Museum on the Champlain Barge Canal just a block off Route 4 in the center of Whitehall. Here, in a renovated 1917 New York State Canal terminal building, the Whitehall Historical Society has crafted a wonderfully quaint presentation of early life on the American frontier. To be sure, this is not the Smithsonian Institution, but those of us old enough to remember the "old" Smithsonian, with a surprise around every corner, will have a sense of the Whitehall experience.